Keeping Watch - A Swan Song
Henry County — On Saturday November 15th, 2008 at approximately 7:20 a.m. a young pair of trumpeter swans were cruising their way into the Cedar Bottoms Game Management Area in Muscatine County Iowa on the slow stately sweep of their great white wings. In just a matter of minutes both swans were dead.
Matt and Zach, hunting waterfowl in the Cedar Bottoms west and north of Muscatine watched as the young pair flew into range. Matt shot and missed while the deadly aim of Zachary Boots brought down the female (pen).
The male (cob), shaken, confused and alone chose the fate of his bond over the freedom of his wings and banked against the beckoning refuge of the sky to circle back across Cedar Bottoms, searching and calling for his fallen mate. Two more hunters, Frye and LaRue, could not pass up their opportunity to add their fire to the morning sky and thus the young cob too was felled to join his mate in the embrace of death.
A DNR Game Warden made the arrest and sent the remains of the swans to the Lake Darling office to be held in cold storage as evidence.
Following the court action arrangements were made to send the body of the young cob to the Henry County Conservation Board to be preserved, artistically mounted and displayed, as if in flight, in the Oakland Mills Nature Center. I look forward to observing the mount at the spring opening.
In memory of the tragic story of the death of this young pair I will hence forth refer to them as Romeo and Juliet. Romeo wore the red identification collar of swans released by the Iowa DNR. Romeo broke his way out of the egg at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois in the spring of 2005. Big dreams were born with this little cygnet. His was not to be a life of confinement in a zoo. He was to fly free and to join with other trumpeter swans who were being raised and released in Iowa and Minnesota to restore their kind. His destiny was to trumpet the message of conservation across the skies of eastern Iowa and for as long as it was given to him, He did his job well. (to be continued)